Bears can catch a scent miles away. The inside of a bear’s nose is 100 times bigger than ours, and it’s full of sensory cells.
That’s why you need to properly store your smellables when you’re camping in bear country. This includes food, garbage, toiletries, lotions and insect repellent. Don’t stow this stuff in your backpack or tent.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe from bears:
- Never snack in your tent.
- Keep all camp “smellables” stored properly, using bear-resistant containers to protect them from hungry bears. Smellables include any item with a scent: food and items like canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, coolers and unwashed items.
- Have out only the food that you are actually using; if you’re not using it, put it back into the food locker.
- Treat your trash like food: keep it in your food locker or dispose of it in a bear-proof dumpster.
To store food and smellables in a bear bag, find a tree with a sturdy horizontal branch about 20 feet above the ground. Toss a 50-foot-long cord over the branch. Stash your provisions in a sturdy plastic trash bag or in a waterproof stuff sack, and then close and secure it to one end of the cord.
Pull the other end of the cord to raise the bag until the bottom of the bag is at least 12 feet off the ground and 8 feet away from tree trunks — well beyond the reach of any bears. Tie the free end of the cord to a tree or stake.
You can also try storing your stuff in heavy-duty metal boxes or bear canisters, which are made from strong plastic.
Properly storing your smellables deters not only bears, but also other hungry critters like raccoons and mice.
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